ONE MOMENT in Island Theater - FOUR DECADES of Creative Ripples -Fall 2017

The Nantucket Stage Company lasted only a year and performed on a converted middle-school stage, but the plays developed and performed that season found a home on and off Broadway.

by: John Stanton

Slowly, the island slipped out of view. Tears rolled down his face as he stood on the deck of the steamboat. He had no idea what was next.

“I find that moment traumatic still,” said John Wulp, now 89 years old and living in North Haven, near Vinalhaven, another little island off the coast of northern Maine.

Artist, producer and director John Wulp’s restless creativity fueled the Nantucket Stage Company. Now 89, he lives on another small island, this one off the coast of northern Maine.

“I sold my house to pay off all the Stage Company’s debts, which were $80,000. The only asset I had was ‘Dracula,’ and I didn’t even own the professional rights to that yet.”

It was the spring of 1975. Wulp’s theater company, The Nantucket Stage Company, had finally reached an agreement to take over the Straight Wharf Theater. On April 19, the very night the keys were handed over to Wulp, the little theater burned to the ground.

Ask around and you hear accusations of unsolved arson, of hard feelings between local community theater and equity, or professional, theater. Wulp is content to just assume the cause was faulty wiring, exacerbated when the theater space was emptied.

But this is not a story about endings. This is a story of how art is a determined act of creation. It is the story of the ripples that sometimes push out from the center of such creative acts. The Nantucket Stage Company was in business for just a single season, 1973, but the work done that season still reaches audiences, the people involved still create.

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